Monday, January 4, 2010

Making and Giving Beer for Christmas

This year my family decided to try and moderate the consumerism of the Christmas season by making as many of our gifts as possible. It was a joy to tally up the list of fun and creative things made: rosary hangers, packets of handmade stationary, stilts, windchimes, doll dresses, a kitchen apron for our youngest, and more.

Back in November I valiantly did my part by brewing two batches of beer, an American brown ale which I called Holyday Brown and an American IPA called Icicle IPA. I've sent out some bottles of each (and there are some of you who have not yet received your bottles, but Epiphany is not here yet, you know, so I still have some time!) The Holyday Brown, in particular, has gotten some nice comments and I thought I'd share out the recipe for you homebrewers. Think about this as a nice Christmas gift for next year. For my part, I'm contemplating a vanilla bourbon porter and perhaps a nice Belgian dark strong ale to bring some holyday cheer in 2010. Now, here are the details for Holyday Brown (I brewed an 11 gallon batch, so modify amounts accordingly):

18 lbs. American 2-row malt
2 lbs. Munich malt
1 lb. honey malt
1 lb. pale chocolate malt
1 lb. Special B malt
1/4 lb. black patent malt

I mashed warm, at 157 deg F, in order to try and get a nice, thick mouthfeel....which I did! I bittered this with 1 oz. of Magnum hops (13.5% AA) for 60 minutes and then added 2 oz. of Northern Brewer (8% AA) 15 minutes from the end of boil for flavor, for a total of 36 IBU. I used US-05 American ale yeast and fermented at around 62 deg F for three weeks, then kegged. Original gravity was 1.061 and it finished at 1.020.

This is a malty, viscous brew, very dark brown with a rough-and-ready hoppiness from the Northern Brewer hops, plenty of dried fruit and caramel, and just a wee hint of roastiness on the finish. If I would change anything, I might back off just a bit on the bittering hops, but overall it's a pretty nice beer. It reminds me of Summit's Winter Ale, which is a fine beer itself.

Now, let's talk about the rest of the year. I have lots of homebrewing adventures planned and am also hoping to update this blog a bit more frequently. Given the present state of our nation's economy I want to do a series on the "Economics of Homebrewing". Over the Christmas vacation I finished reading Brew Like a Monk, by Stan Hieronymus and hope to do a review of that book on Belgian-style beers. And per reader requests, I hope to delve more into the Catholic roots of brewing as well as highlighting various patron saints of brewing.

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year and Blessed Epiphany!